Poverty and disability each bring health challenges: when the two occur together problems can be intensified. This is especially true for children with disabilities, whose mortality before their fifth birthday may be as high as 80% in some developing countries.
Our task is to build capacity among both families and local services. Since early detection and rehabilitation is often provided by family members, our community-based projects help people learn the best ways to help their relatives with disabilities. In creating and strengthening local services, our projects help make them more accessible. All our work focuses on enabling people to play active roles in their families and societies. Since health is a pre-requisite to development, all of Leonard Cheshire Disability's education projects and most of our livelihoods projects include a health component.
Access to healthcare is a human right
Jenny Matthews / Leonard Cheshire Disability
"I am very happy and gratified seeing Joseph playing with his friends. He can now move easily from place to place." - Joseph’s Father, Sierra Leone.
While fleeing rebels during Sierra Leone’s civil war, four-year-old Joseph was left unable to walk after a bad fever. Under other circumstances this might have been treated, but as impoverished refugees, his family could do nothing.
Now, several years later, Joseph can walk around his neighbourhood after regular physiotherapy exercises on home-made equipment. Joseph's story is just one example of how Leonard Cheshire Disability extends health and rehabilitation support into communities and he is one of up to 1,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria to have been supported in rehabilitation through our local partnerships.
In Sierra Leone our project takes a dual approach. After developing partnerships with specialist health and rehabilitation services, including those run by governments or other organisations, we refer people with disabilities to resources already available in the community. In addition, we teach family members to provide therapy themselves.
Tsunami leads to service innovation
Our integrated approach to health and wellbeing is illustrated by the Disability Resource Centres we established in coastal areas of India and Sri Lanka after the tsunami. Research by Leonard Cheshire Disability and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) showed that nearly all of the organisations providing emergency aid after the disaster had not reached people with disabilities.
Started as a 'one stop shop', each centre provides information and referrals on the whole range of health and rehabilitation services available, for instance prosthetic devices, mobility aids, hearing aids and other equipment. It also offers printed materials on disability, copies of local legislation and information on government provision for people with disabilities. Services then extend to organising skills and job training and support for small enterprises. The next step is inspiring and supporting people to campaign for changes in local and national laws and practice.
Having pioneered the Disability Resource Centre approach after the tsunami, we established another in Pakistan after the 2006 earthquake. It now supports over 300 people with rehabilitation and livelihoods services annually.
An evaluation of the Disability Resource Centres in India and Sri Lanka is available here.
Leonard Cheshire Disability is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no: 552847, and a registered charity no: 218186 (England & Wales) and no: SC005117 (Scotland). VAT no: 899 3223 75. Registered office: 66 South Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1RL. Site powered by the webbler.